Austrian minister "very open" to privatisations
VIENNA, Sept 26
VIENNA, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Austria should sell off some of its holdings in companies if it brings a strategic benefit, the minister tipped to take over the finance ministry after national elections on Sunday was quoted saying by a newspaper.
The Austrian government holds stakes ranging from blocking minorities to majorities in what it considers strategic firms, including energy group OMV, Telekom Austria and Austrian Post.
"I am in favour of privatisations where it makes sense, but we can't sell off the family silver just so that it is no longer in state hands," Economy Minister Reinhold Mitterlehner told the WirtschaftsBlatt in an interview published on Thursday.
"I am very open to the idea if it brings strategic advantages," he added.
Austria's plan to balance its budget by 2016 is threatened by the prospect of huge costs for selling troubled state bank Hypo Alpe Adria, which could need up to 5.4 billion euros ($7.3 billion) in fresh capital by 2017.
Mitterlehner is a member of the conservative People's Party, which is expected to win enough votes to continue as the junior coalition party of the Social Democrats.
($1 = 0.7403 euros) (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by David Holmes)
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